The army wanted my brother to report the next day at nine o’clock. The draft card covered up the ladies with their long skirts at the evening cabaret. France cabarets its nights away. I was born here, where a different program is in store.
When Dad bought us a VCR, my brother and I watched horror movies every afternoon. At night I used to cover my neck with the sheet. Kept the wardrobe shut. Took care of the monsters under the bed. Howled at the full moon. Drank water with garlic.
You can’t be sure you’ll do your time without problems, even if you vow before arrival that you’ll obey the guards, stay out of trouble and try your best to repent for your sins. Prison is not that kind of institution.
“Have I told you the story about the guy who butchered hogs?” “Which guy?” “The one who was in the Foreign Legion. Have I told you that one?”
All courses start in the fall, when a man has to start something, turn things around, survive. It’s always great in the beginning, but there’s a point with people like him, people who never make a second payment for their German, karate, creative writing, yoga…
That New Year little Mensur Ćeman learned that Grandfather Frost really did exist, but that he was not the kind old man from the Coca-Cola ad bringing colorfully wrapped presents for the children—he was an infidel arsonist, and it was because of him that he now lived at his Uncle Irfan’s and had to go to school in Darkovo, six kilometers away.